4 Tips to Boost Emotional Boundaries During the Holidays
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is here and it’s the end of another calendar year. We’ve all been busy shopping for Christmas, planning and attending holiday parties, sitting through kid events, and more. It’s challenging to stay focused on caring for yourself and your mental state with everything transpiring- large family dinners, messes, nieces and nephews screaming, messes, watching Christmas with the Kranks over and over, more messes.
For some, the holidays are something to look forward to all year through and for others, it’s something dreaded as it brings up stress or trauma or both. It’s important to remember it’s not only healthy to set boundaries with friends and family, it’s necessary for your survival!
Celebrating in small or large groups may be physically overwhelming and mentally exhausting. There can be many personal pressures that arise during the Christmas season and it’s important to remind yourself it’s ok to do or not do certain things in order to stay healthy.
The following are some ideas to keep your mindset protected protected during this season:
You don’t have to hug people
Honestly, I always hated it when my parents forced me to hug relatives- even if I liked and felt a connection with them. Buddhists believe the transfer of negative energy between people can result in mental distress. Hugging others with good energy produces oxytocin which works with the pituitary gland to decrease cortisol. Cortisol is one of the major factors in increasing stress and causing heart issues.
Be mindful of what your body tells you. In order to protect your energy, it’s ok to refrain from hugging. Maybe tell them you’re coming down with something and you don’t want them to get sick. Or straightforwardly explain you're not ok with physical contact. It's ok to not explain at all. Think of some different rebuttals, write them down, and use them. Carry crystals with you to protect your energy. Black tourmaline is a great negative energy repeller.
You don’t have to talk about yourself
After unpleasant life events, I was always embarrassed to be around close friends and family. I secluded myself for fear of being judged. I separated myself for feeling that everyone thinks I’m a huge disappointment. I convinced myself they are doing better in their life than I am in mine, which makes me feel inadequate. That’s all garbage.
I’ve learned it’s fine to talk about anything else. Casually change the subject whenever someone asks about a painful part of your life. Pretend you have to go to the bathroom (even if you just came out of there). Do anything to change the topic of conversation. It’s completely acceptable to just say you aren’t interested in discussing certain topics. You do not have to be the center of attention.
You don’t have to buy everyone presents
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $659 on gifts for family, friends and co-workers. $659! That isn’t including extra money for dinners, gas or Uber’s getting to and from gatherings, and decorations. You are under no obligation to buy anything for anyone if it going to lead to negative feelings.
There is never a need to overspend. There is never a need to purchase presents for your entire family. Buyer’s remorse 100% unnecessary and gifts shouldn’t be the purpose of celebrating holidays. Making something nice for someone can seem more genuine and it’s less expensive. Do good. Don’t give good.
You don’t have to stay long
I’m not sure if you can relate, but I need an exit strategy wherever I go. I’ll check my phone every 12.4 minutes to see if another hour has gone by. I’ll spend a lengthy amount of time upstairs in the kid’s play room because it seems more pleasant than conversing with the adults downstairs. Even if you quickly regroup by going in a different room, then come back- just know you aren’t stuck. You have options to get you through.
Set a timer. Check your energy level every hour on the hour (or sooner) while at the gathering. If you feel like you need to leave, then go. It can be quite overwhelming to walk into a crowded home without an exit plan. Think of and use ways to gracefully exit. Keep yourself accountable and leave when you need.
Remember to take care of yourself (mind, body, and spirit) first during the holidays. Practice and listen to what your brain and body are telling you to avoid getting burned out. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season!
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